Book Review: Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas

Book Review: Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon ThomasKingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #2
Published by HarperTeen on February 23, 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss. Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale.

But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

Book Review:

KINGDOM OF ASHES is the second book in the A Wicked Thing duology. It picks up right after the end of A WICKED THING, with Aurora on the run from the mad king. In case you missed the first book, this series wonders what happens after Sleeping Beauty wakes up.

I wasn’t entirely sold on A WICKED THING last year; my rating was 3 stars, which is an average book for me. But I was intrigued enough to want to see what else the author had in store for Aurora.

It took me a while to figure out my rating for KINGDOM OF ASHES. I was bored for a lot of the pages, just like with the first book. There’s almost no recap of previous events, and I couldn’t remember a lot of what had happened. So I was confused and ehhhh for some of the book.I needed a reminder of why Aurora was running away from her country.

However, I really liked the ideas the author tried to explore, such as the expectations placed upon Aurora by the people of her country. How she’s supposed to save them from their unhappy lives simply because she woke up. But if she tries to take power into her hands, they’ll eventually hate her, like her country turned on their first female leader/founder.

But… KINGDOM OF ASHES just didn’t keep my interest for the majority of the story. For me, the dragons didn’t seem to fit. They kind of came out of nowhere; I was much more interested in Aurora and Celestine’s connection. I didn’t need the dragons, and I’m a reader who usually loves magical beasts. Give me more Aurora and Celestine!

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Rhiannon Thomas:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Book Review: The Glittering Court by Richelle MeadThe Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
Series: The Glittering Court #1
Published by Razorbill on April 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
For a select group of girls, the Glittering Court offers a shot at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. To high-born Adelaide, whose wealthy family is forcing her into a loveless marriage, the Glittering Court represents something else: the chance to chart her own destiny, and adventure in an unspoiled, prosperous new land across the sea.

After a chance meeting with the dazzling Cedric Thorn, Adelaide poses as a servant to join the crop of impoverished girls he promises to transform into proper ladies. But her familiarity with upper class life comes with a price: she must hide her identity from her new friends, mysterious refugee Mira and fiery former laundress Tamsin, and most importantly, from Cedric himself—even though she’s falling in love with him.

Everything begins to crumble when Cedric discovers Adelaide’s ruse, and she catches the eye of a powerful young governor, who wants her for a wife. She didn’t leave the gilded cage of her old life behind just to become someone else's property. But nothing is as daunting—or as wonderful—as the potent, forbidden attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. One that, if acted on, would make them both outcasts in a wild, dangerous, uncharted world, and possibly lead them to their deaths.

Book Review:

For some reason, I thought THE GLITTERING COURT was a book about faeries and their courts. I don’t know why — maybe the title gave me that impression? Anyway, that misconception aside, I’m not sure why THE GLITTERING COURT is classified as fantasy. There’s no magic, extraordinary creatures, special powers. Nothing.

Basically, THE GLITTERING COURT is THE JEWEL + THE SELECTION set in a pseudo-Frontier America. A young countess escapes an arranged marriage by taking her servant’s identity and place in the Glittering Court. The Court takes impoverished girls who want a better life and shines them into jewels to be sold into marriage in Adoria, a land low on women and high on money. In Adoria, the girls are displayed and advertised by the value of their scores on subjects like dancing and polite conversation.

If you like books full of glitz and glamour and descriptions of dresses and rooms, THE GLITTERING COURT might be the book for you. But I like my fantasy with substance and worldbuilding and magic, so I was quite disappointed.

Even if I ignore that the book is classified as fantasy (and this might be the fault of the publisher, not the author), there’s still a lack of worldbuilding and some wild leaps that just made my head hurt. For example, Adelaide runs away from an arranged marriage by going into the Glittering Court… to be sold as a bride. Instead of being smart and trying to get high scores, she downplays her abilities to be in the middle of the pack, where she’s unlikely to get her choice of husband.

I was bored and/or frustrated by the majority of THE GLITTERING COURT, and I almost put it down several times. I kept reading in the hope it would get better, only to be annoyed by “hey, let’s reveal secrets at the end, but keep them from the reader until book two!” or “hey, let’s save the characters from their own stupid with a miracle!” The author brings up topics that could have been interesting, like religious heresy, but doesn’t dive into any of them. Everything stays on the surface in a very bland way, even attempted rape, without any consequences or the characters doing any emotional processing.

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Richelle Mead:
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– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

waiting on wednesday

age of myth by michael j sullivanAge of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire #1) by Michael J. Sullivan
Release Date: June 28, 2016

What does it mean if the gods can be killed? The first novel in an epic new fantasy series for readers of Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, Peter V. Brett, and Scott Lynch.

Michael J. Sullivan’s trailblazing career began with the breakout success of his Riyria series: full-bodied, spellbinding fantasy adventures whose imaginative scope and sympathetic characters won a devoted readership. Now, Sullivan’s stunning hardcover debut, Age of Myth, inaugurates an original five-book series, and one of fantasy’s finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer, Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom, and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.

I’ve been meaning to read Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria books for a while. Alas, I’ll probably never get to them, but that’s okay. Because AGE OF MYTH sounds even more like my sort of book. I’m hungering for good fantasy lately, and I tend to like stories where gods fall and annihilation threatens humankind. And I’m already curious about Persephone.

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna

Book Review: Sight Lines by Michelle DiCeglio

Book Review: Sight Lines by Michelle DiCeglioSight Lines by Michelle DiCeglio
Published by Elloras Cave Publishing Inc on November 6, 2015
Genres: LGBT, Mystery
Pages: 173
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Police Detective Lacey Mills is on a mission to find a serial killer. Still reeling from the unsolved murder of her girlfriend two years earlier, Lacey has buried herself in work for too long. At least that’s what she’s told on her mandatory appointment with a shrink after being involved in a deadly shootout. It’s time to stop running away from every woman who shows interest in her.

When she meets a beautiful web designer named Ali, Lacey follows the doctor’s advice and lets herself take another chance on love. So much for cutting back on work—it turns out Ali has been hiding a big secret that might change the entire direction of Lacey’s murder investigation.

Book Review:

SIGHT LINES is a short but complete murder mystery with a side of romance. I was interested in reading it because Lacey, the main character and detective on the murder case, is gay. Her sexuality isn’t an issue — this isn’t a coming out book. I’m always on the lookout for more books with diverse characters that are characters outside of their diversity. For example, Lacey’s a detective who just happens to be gay.

Lacey’s latest case is a difficult one to crack. Several women have been killed, all by a gunshot to the head. The killer is very careful to not leave behind any forensic evidence. Lacey doesn’t want the cases to go cold, but with almost no evidence, there’s not much to go on. Her personal life isn’t going much better either; after the death of her girlfriend two years ago, Lacey’s been alone. But when web designer Ali comes along, Lacey takes a chance on starting something new.

I liked SIGHT LINES. It’s always nice to get a complete story in one go, without needing to wait years for the whole series. I also liked how Lacey wasn’t always right, and was able to admit when she made mistakes.

At the same time, SIGHT LINES was just too short, leaving me wanting more character development and development for the relationship between Lacey and Ali. I also had a few unanswered questions from the murder mystery. The author’s writing style was a bit too detailed for me in odd places — I would rather have had meaty info rather than knowing what a bit character wore or how they looked.

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– leeanna

Book Review: The Reburialists by J.C. Nelson

Book Review: The Reburialists by J.C. NelsonThe Reburialists by JC Nelson
Published by Ace on March 1, 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
The author of Wish Bound and the Grimm Agency novels returns with an all-new urban fantasy novel!

Burying the dead is easy. Keeping them down is difficult.

At the Bureau of Special Investigations, agents encounter all sorts of paranormal evils. So for Agent Brynner Carson, driving a stake through a rampaging three-week-old corpse is par for the course. Except this cadaver is different. It’s talking—and it has a message about his father, Heinrich.

The reanimated stiff delivers an ultimatum written in bloody hieroglyphics, and BSI Senior Analyst Grace Roberts is called in to translate. It seems that Heinrich Carson stole the heart of Ra-Ame, the long-dead god of the Re-Animus. She wants it back. The only problem is Heinrich took the secret of its location to his grave.

With the arrival of Ra-Ame looming and her undead army wreaking havoc, Brynner and Grace must race to find the key to stopping her. It’s a race they can’t afford to lose, but then again, it’s just another day on the job . . .

Book Review:

THE REBURIALISTS is delightfully quirky urban fantasy. It’s full of action, a super cool mythology, and even a partnership/romance. “Burying the dead is easy. Keeping them down is difficult.” Who can pass up a summary with that line?

I’m typically not a fan of zombie books; they’re just not my thing. But ancient Egyptian inspired zombies? Totally my thing. The mythology in THE REBURIALISTS was my favorite thing about the book. In J. C. Nelson’s world, the dead can rise. So most people are cremated now, and if they aren’t, they’re buried with tendons cut and jaws pinned shut. Many of the risen dead are just shamblers, but they’re under the control of a very intelligent Re-Animus.

One of those Re-Animus knows Brynner Carson by name. One of the most famous agents of the Bureau of Special Investigations, Brynner’s also a playboy with a reputation. When a Re-Animus asks for something his dad hid, Brynner must work with Grace Roberts, an analyst who believes in science and only science. Predictably, they clash plenty of times in THE REBURIALISTS, but because the book is written from both of their POVS, it’s a great way to see both sides of the story and mythology. Brynner’s all belief and instinct, where Grace is rational and methodical.

For now, THE REBURIALISTS is a standalone. It’s a complete story, but I would like to see more of Brynner, Grace, and the author’s supercool world. There’s a lot of story and a lot of stuff happening in THE REBURIALISTS’ ~400 pages, all of which I enjoyed. I definitely didn’t expect some of the twists, which is always nice.

The only part of THE REBURIALISTS that didn’t quite work for me was the relationship between Brynner and Grace. I just didn’t see a spark between them, and wished they had stayed friends. That said, once the kinks were worked out, I did like them together, and liked how they backed each other up (even when they were mad at each other).

THE REBURIALISTS is a fun read. I enjoyed how the author mixed ancient Egyptian mythology with zombies and science. I never thought anyone would get me to read a book about scary walking dead, but J.C. Nelson did.

TL;DR Version:

the reburialists mood graphic

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– leeanna

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Published by Ballantine Books on April 5, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

In Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages.

Book Review:

LILAC GIRLS has one good and one bad thing about it: Caroline Ferriday.

The book is written from the perspectives of three very different women: Caroline Ferriday, New York socialite and charity worker; Kasia Kuzmerick, Polish teenager, resistance member, and Ravensbrück rabbit; and Herta Oberheuser, the sole female German doctor at Ravensbrück.

Now, why do I say Caroline is good and bad? Because for the majority of LILAC GIRLS, I couldn’t stand her chapters. We go from Kasia suffering at Ravensbrück to Caroline being miserable because her married beau disappears after Germany takes France. I wanted to skip Caroline’s chapters, because I just did not care about her and Paul, and her whinging over him got old. I’m always picky about romances; Caroline and Paul had no chemistry for me and I winced whenever he showed up. Caroline’s war year chapters dragged down LILAC GIRLS for me.

I was much more interested in Kasia’s story, because I haven’t seen the Rabbits mentioned in a lot of WWII historical fiction*. Even Herta’s chapters were intriguing, although I wish the author had spent more time on her moral transformation, going from reluctant to kill to eager to practice surgery on unwilling test subjects.

But at the end of the book, I learned Caroline was a real person. And that was the best part of LILAC GIRLS for me: the book brought to light an incredibly important person. With all the reading I’ve done on WWII, Caroline Ferriday is someone I should’ve heard about, but she’s been forgotten to history.

The other part of LILAC GIRLS I appreciated is that the author continued the book after the war years. A lot of WWII historical fiction is set in 1939-1945, and that’s it. Story over after the end of the war. But here, we stayed with the characters for a lot longer. By continuing Kasia’s story, the author showed how the war didn’t really end for many of the victims.

*ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein was my first introduction to the plight of the Rabbits, and I highly recommend it.

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– leeanna

Book Review: Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak

Book Review: Black City Saint by Richard A. KnaakBlack City Saint by Richard A Knaak
Series: Black City Saint #1
Published by Pyr on March 1, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 390
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.

Book Review:

I’m a fan of Richard A. Knaak’s books in the World of Warcraft realm, so I was eager to try out some of his original work. BLACK CITY SAINT sounded quite intriguing, with its mashup of noir, fae, dragons, and 1920s Chicago.

Unfortunately, I was bored by 97% of the book. Every time I picked it up to read, I kept putting it back down and looking at Instagram or Twitter or any other diversion I could find. Part of the reason was the stilted, overly formal writing style, which I think the author used in an attempt to make the book feel more 1920s-ish. But I also know that Knaak can overwrite, so that was part of it as well. I hate when I have to reread sentences 2 or 3 times to figure out what they mean.

My second problem with BLACK CITY SAINT? Nick spends the first half of the book going all over Chicago for no real reason at all. The first few chapters were cool, because they introduced Nick, the dragon, and the author’s version of fae, but then nothing happens. Nick goes here, he goes there, he keeps secrets, he goes here, he goes there, he keeps more secrets.

Third, the author tried so hard to make Nick’s enemy the typical tricky fae lord that I was confused by all the double-crossing, lying, trickery, and secrets. Nick was continually surprised by the villain, which I found hard to believe considering they’d fought before, and he had more than a thousand years of experience. And because he kept getting tricked by Oberon, I found it even more hard to believe that he would eventually triumph.

Fourth, why was Claryce even in BLACK CITY SAINT? All she wanted to do was follow Nick into danger and Nick wanted her to stay behind and be safe. She never listened and he loved her even more for it? Claryce played practically no role in the book, other than a prop to be moved around until the very end. I thought it was lazy the author relied on her past incarnations to develop hints of a relationship between them, instead of just developing it in the here and now.

All of that said, I did like the dragon in BLACK CITY SAINT. Knaak is good with dragons.

Overall, I think BLACK CITY SAINT tried to combine too many things and genres, and tried too hard to be clever. There were some cool ideas, but the execution was off for me.

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– leeanna

Book Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Book Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie JordanReign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Series: Reign of Shadows #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 9, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
1 Stars
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.

Book Review:

REIGN OF SHADOWS is the first in a new YA series by Sophie Jordan. It’s set in a world of darkness where an eclipse has reigned for 17 years. The rightful princess of the land lives in a tower hidden in the forest, waiting for daylight to come back to reclaim her kingdom.

I liked the idea behind REIGN OF SHADOWS — the world of darkness and the hidden princess. Unfortunately, the author didn’t deliver on anything, from worldbuilding to an actual story. Why’s the world dark? Because of an eclipse. That’s the entirety of the explanation. Where do the dwellers come from? Underground. How can a blind girl run through a forest like she’s Usain Bolt, without tripping or falling?

Yeah. Luna is blind, which could have been very cool, but the author turned her into Superwoman with no basis. I understand that one’s other senses do amp up, but Luna’s abilities are unbelievably superhuman.

Then there’s Fowler, the bad-boy love interest who is incredibly broken. He’s lost too much in life to care about anyone. But Luna’s love fixes him in a matter of days. Every single one of their kisses is good enough to cause a volcano to erupt.

Lastly, what the heck happened in REIGN OF SHADOWS? The book read more like a prequel to a series than a real first installment. I just finished the book, and I’m trying to remember what happened… not much.

I’ve read one of the author’s other books — UNINVITED — and had many of the same issues with that book. So, I’m thinking Sophie Jordan just isn’t an author for me. She has cool ideas, but the execution is off and there are just too many cliche tropes in her books for me to enjoy them.

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– leeanna

Book Review: The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson

Book Review: The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh JohnsonThe Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson
Series:
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: World of Solace #2
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
From Jaleigh Johnson, the acclaimed author of The Mark of the Dragonfly, comes another thrilling adventure in the magical world of Solace.

Lina Winterbock lives in the mountain strongholds of Solace. She’s an apprentice to the archivists, the wise men and women whose lives are dedicated to cataloging, studying, and preserving the objects that mysteriously fall from the sky in the scrap towns.

Lina should be spending her days with books, but the Iron War has changed everything. The strongholds are now a refuge, and the people Lina once counted on no longer have time for her, so she spends her days exploring the hidden tunnels and passages of her home. The strongholds are vast and old, with twisting paths, forgotten rooms, and collapsed chambers, some of them containing objects that have been lost and forgotten even by the archivists.

And in one of the forgotten chambers, Lina discovers a secret.
Hidden deep in a cavern is a half-buried airship like nothing she has ever seen before. She’s determined to dig it out and restore it. But Lina needs help, and she doesn’t know anyone she can trust with her secret.

Then she meets Ozben, a mysterious boy who has a secret of his own—a secret that’s so dangerous it could change the course of the Iron War and the world of Solace forever.

Book Review:

I enjoyed Jaleigh Johnson’s first book set in the word of Solace, THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY. THE SECRETS OF SOLACE is a standalone also set in Solace, but with two new characters: Lina and Ozben.

Lina is an apprentice archivist, studying the mysterious artifacts from the meteor fields. Ozben is a refugee boy with a huge secret. When they meet, Lina gets the first friend she’s ever had, and Ozben might have a way to go home, thanks to Lina’s own secret. The friendship between Lina and Ozben was quite nice to read; it was probably one of my favorite parts of the book.

Otherwise… I’m struggling a bit with reviewing THE SECRETS OF SOLACE. I can’t help but compare it to THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY, and it just doesn’t have the same magic. The first half of the book was quite slow, leaving me wanting more action and more from Lina, other than her repeating the same mistakes. I feel like the author spent too much time setting up Lina’s pre-teen angst, and then rushed to wrap up all the storylines in the last quarter of the book.

The end of the book was good, and I liked what we learned about the Merlin… I just wish there had been more of the ship in the book. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the Merlin was very cool, and I hope that if Johnson writes another Solace book, we’ll see more of that type of thing.

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– leeanna

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn HamiltonRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Book Review:

I was looking forward to REBEL OF THE SANDS — I love me a heroine that can shoot and a setting other than Medieval European fantasy– but the book fell flat for me. I’m a black sheep on this one; from reading other reviews, I can see that most people are loving it.

Amani’s a smart-mouthed girl desperate to escape her small town. She’s always had dreams of life in the big city, but now she has to get out before her uncle forces her into marriage. The only problem? She has no money, and when she tries to win money in a shooting competition, she and a foreigner end up setting the place on fire. Naturally, foreign boy Jin is handsome and full of secrets, with “the sort of smile that would turn over whole empires to the enemy (p. 132).”*

REBEL OF THE SANDS didn’t have anything special to keep my attention. The first few pages were good, and then the book meandered around. I wasn’t sure exactly what the plot was — Amani and Jin spent a lot of time traveling, getting in each other’s way and then dealing with obstacles that kept getting in the way. The middle of the book dragged. The end was better, and at least there wasn’t a cliffhanger, but I’m not sure this is a series I’d continue.

There were some interesting fantasy bits, but they were at the end of the book, and by then I was kind of over it. I was very meh on the romance and the action. I think the author needs to choreograph her action scenes better in the future — they were hard to imagine and some were unrealistic and/or too short.

For me, REBEL OF THE SANDS = smart-mouthed heroine + boy full of secrets + generic desert setting + no real plot until the end of the book.

*Quote from uncorrected review copy

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– leeanna